By Brendan O’Brien
Joe Schmidt has named an inexperienced squad backboned, as expected, by Leinster players for this Thursday’s meeting with the Barbarians in Limerick’s Thomond Park.
Munster are unsurprisingly unrepresented in this latest panel given the province will face Glasgow Warriors in the PRO12 final in Kingspan Stadium in Belfast this Saturday.
Leinster’s failure to make the play-off stages left them primed to carry the majority of the burden this week and that cohort will be backed up by a liberal sprinkling from Ulster after the northern province’s season was ended by the Warriors in Scotstoun.
No Connacht players have been asked to take part following their gut-wrenching extra-time Rugby Champions Cup play-off loss to Gloucester in Kingsholm on Sunday while the Ireland coach has been further deprived of players by injury.
Others, including Jared Payne, have been rested and so Schmidt and his management team has instead offered the likes of Leinster youngsters Ben Marshall, Cian Kelleher and Colm O’Shea the chance to integrate themselves into the senior set-up for this fixture.
“We knew it was an opportunity to explore some options and give guys like Chris Henry the chance to get back into the environment,” said defence coach Les Kiss. “It also lives up to the spirit of what the Barbarians is all about in bringing some younger players into the environment.
Just over 14,000 tickets have been sold for the game against the Barbrians who have put together a mouth-watering selection that includes Brad Thorn, George Smith, Ruan Pienaar and Leinster’s Shane Jennings in his last game before retirement.
Schmidt will name an expanded training squad for the World Cup in mid-to-late June.
Forwards: Michael Bent, Jack Conan, Robbie Diack, Tadhg Furlong, Jamie Heaslip (capt), Chris Henry, Rob Herring, Jack McGrath, Ben Marshall, Jordi Murphy, Mike Ross, Rhys Ruddock, Richardt Strass, Devin Toner, Dan Tuohy.
Backs: Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Dave Kearney, Cian Kelleher, Stuart McCloskey, Luke McGrath, Ian Madigan, Luke Marshall, Colm O'Shea, Eoin Reddan, Noel Reid.